Blair Stocker’s new book is now available! WISE CRAFT: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects Into Stuff You Love features four seasonal chapters packed with 60 craft projects to help you create a handmade home.
From Running Press:
- …This ultimate craft guide focuses on creating a homemade atmosphere that reflects your family, without spending a fortune. Instead of throwing away old shirts and boring dishes, or passing up thrift store finds that aren’t quite right, Blair teaches how to remake, adding special touches to make them work for her home – and yours.
We’ve visited Wise Craft for just about a decade now! We love Blair’s approach to really making her home both embody and comfort her busy, creative family.
Blair and Running Press are sharing the Pinpoint Oxford Eiderdown Coverlet project from WISE CRAFT: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects Into Stuff You Love below. Blair’s coverlet repurposes Oxford cloth shirts but you can also use the tutorial with any fabric of your choice. Have fun with this easy project (perfect for a beginner!), and be sure to comment below for your chance to win a copy of the book. (US addresses only this time, please.) Tell us about something you’ve made recently… Have you turned a thrift store find into something fabulous? Did you use fabric scraps or natural objects to make something special? What’s your latest crafty success?
Check out the trailer for Blair’s book for more on the projects. If you’re a local here in the Pacific Northwest there are also some opportunities to talk with Blair and learn more in person on her book tour.
Pinpoint Oxford Eiderdown Coverlet
Reprinted with permission from Running Press from WISE CRAFT: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects Into Stuff You Love by Blair Stocker, 2014.
This is the perfect bit of extra warmth to pull out in early spring when there’s still a bit of chill in the air. Inspired by a traditional English eiderdown, it has two layers of batting to create a cozy cover to throw over cold toes (or over a sleeping child when Mom has put the flannel sheets away a little too soon). The Pinpoint Oxford cloth used for high-quality men’s dress shirts is a gorgeously fine fabric, wonderful to sew with. I focused on three main colors (white, pale blue, and a darker blue), but chose shade and weave variations within each of those colors for added surface interest. As a rule of thumb, each shirt will yield about twenty-five 4½-inch squares. I chose neutral colors that would work anywhere in our house, but it would also be beautiful done in stripes, checks, or bold prints.
The finished size is 48 inches square. This is a great size to use as a top layer for a child’s crib or as a lap blanket, but you can easily make a larger or smaller quilt by simply adding or subtracting rows.
- 6 men’s Pinpoint Oxford cloth shirts in varying colors and textures
- 1 twin-size cotton bedsheet, for backing
- 2 packages crib-size high-loft quilt batting, between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick (I used Soft n Crafty Poly-Fil Extra-Loft batting, 45 x 60 inches)
- 1 skein size 8 perle cotton embroidery thread in a complementary color (you could also use wool or cotton yarn)
- Audio books: This project is a great time to catch up!
From the Crafter’s Toolkit:
- Iron and ironing board
- Fabric scissors
- Quilter’s clear ruler
- Rotary cutter and self-healing cutting mat
- Painter’s blue tape
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine and coordinating thread
- Size 3 or 4 upholstery needle with a sharp tip
- Hand-sewing needle
1. Prepare the shirts and sheet. Wash, dry, and press all the shirts and the bedsheet you’ll use for the back. Set aside the bedsheet for now.
2. Cut squares. Cut away the collars, cuffs, pockets, and seams from the shirt. From the panels that are left, cut 4½-inch squares, using your quilter’s clear ruler, rotary cutter, and cutting mat. I used fifty squares of whites, fifty of light blues, and fifty of darker blues.
3. Lay out your design. Working in rows from left to right and top to bottom, following the illustration, lay out the patchwork pattern. (Tip: It’s nice to have a cleared floor space or large table for this step.) Distribute any variations within each color range throughout the pattern so there is a nice flow of colors across the coverlet. If you need to move this project before the top is sewn together, stack each row from right to left in order (placing next square on top), labeling each stack with painter’s blue tape: “Row 1,” “Row 2,” and so on. Pin or clip each row together.
4. Sew the squares into rows. Machine sew the squares together one row at a time with the right sides together and using a ¼-inch seam allowance. It helps to lay out each row again after you’ve sewn it to double check the patchwork pattern. Press all seam allowances open.
5. Sew the rows together. Starting with the top two rows, right sides facing, pin well, matching up each square’s seamlines. Machine sew lengthwise across the rows, using a ¼-inch seam allowance, and press the seam allowances open. Continue doing this until you’ve pieced the top completely. The coverlet top is now complete.
6. Sew the patchwork front to the backing sheet. Trim down the backing sheet so it’s the same size as the patchwork front, which should be 48½ inches square. Lay the patchwork top on your backing sheet, right sides together. Pin and sew along three of the four sides, just as if you’re sewing a large pillowcase, using a ¼-inch seam allowance. Trim away the excess fabric at the corners to ease bulk and turn right side out, gently pushing corners out.
7. Insert the batting into the “pillowcase.” Cut two layers of batting to measure 45 inches square (trimming the batting a bit smaller compensates for the extra bulk it has). Place both layers on top of each other, smoothing them out. Slip the layers into the cover through the open side. Take your time; this can be a bit fussy. (Tip: It helped me to match up a corner of the batting layers, once they were inside, with a corner of the cover, and pin those together to hold them while I worked on the other side.) Once all the layers are stacked and in place, pin together: Starting in the center of the quilt top and moving outward, place a pin in the middle of each square, going through all the layers.
8. Tie the layers together. Thread the upholstery needle with perle cotton thread or yarn. Working from the back to front of the coverlet, bring the needle up at each corner where four squares meet. Make a ¼-to ½-inch-long diagonal stitch across that seam, pushing the needle back through to the back. Tie with a square knot on the back, leaving 3-inch tails. Do this over the entire coverlet.
9. Finish the coverlet. To close the open end, fold in a ¼-inch seam allowance, press lightly, and pin the edges together. Slipstitch closed by hand stitching with coordinating thread.
- Leave in interesting details from the original shirts, such as the pockets, button placket, or cuffs.
- Use a collection of shirts that belonged to a loved one to create a special memory quilt.